Firmware upgrade on C64 component mod board

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    I picked up a used Altera USB blaster off eBay to attempt a firmware upgrade with Quartus Prime Lite edition. Anyone ever do this? Curious any tips or gotchas I should be aware of.

    • This topic was modified 1 month ago by djc6.

    WARNING: This is my first time flashing FPGA, guide below at your own risk! Not responsible for bricked device!!

    Here is how I ended up successfully upgrading firmware on mac C64 component mod, inspired by a post on Commodore 64/128 Facebook group.

    First, I got a used Altera USB Blaster on eBay. Another affordable NEW option supported by Quartus Prime is the Terasic USB Blaster, available for $50 from Mouser & DigiKey in USA:

    Next, I followed this guide to install VirtualBox, Ubuntu and Quartus Prime on my Mac Mini. NOTE: I would make 30GB minimum VM. The installer files are a couple gigabytes, and once installed it takes up like 10GB on the disk – plus space needed for Ubuntu.

    Only differences were I used latest Quartus Prime Lite (v21.0) and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – latest version that Quartus Prime supports.

    I used “Lite” edition of Quartus Prime, and instead of downloading the huge 10GB “Combined Files” version, I went to Individual Files tab on Intel’s website and downloaded only “Quartus Prime (includes Nios II EDS)” and “MAX 10 FPGA device support” (the kind of FPGA used by the mod). Put them in the same folder, and the installer will find the MAX 10 FPGA files.

    One extra step I had to do in the guide was run ./jtagd prior to ./jtagconfig near the end of the guide, right after creating sym link for libudev. I ran it from within ~/intelFPGA_lite/20.1/quartus/bin directory – same location as ./jtagconfig. Its possible if I’d just restarted Quartus and/or VM that jtagd would have started up on its own (since its a daemon) after the permissions fix and symlink fix outlined in guide above.

    Firmware can be found here: – you need to grab the .pof file.

    Next, go to Tools->Programmer in Quartus Prime and set it up to look like my screenshot 🙂

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    You want to orient JTAG cable like this, there is a very small marking on board indicating which end of JTAG connector is pin 1:

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    One question I had is if the C64 needs to be powered on during firmware upgrade – or does JTAG provide power to the FPGA? A photo on Facebook from someone who knows what he is doing had C64 powered on, so I did this and it worked. But this is one question I still have.


    Thanks for the hints and tips! Yes, you need the C64 powered on in order to complete the upgrade process.

    I guess the virtual machine part is because you were running a Mac and Quartus isn’t available for the Mac?

    What happened to your keyboard in the picture above?! 😀


    I used the VM w/Ubuntu because my only computer is a 2018 Mac Mini and Quartus Prime is only for Windows/Linux. I’d just finished retrobrighting the keys – they were much yellower. Also something I was attempting for first time 🙂 I set them outside for a day in a small closed clear plastic container with 3% hydrogen peroxide (clear liquid). I’m trying to make my C64C with the component mod installed my “nice” Commodore 64.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by djc6.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by djc6.
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